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Iran's mission to UN identifies five Iranians to be released in prisoner swap deal with US

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations has confirmed that five Iranians detained illegally in the United States on charges of circumventing US sanctions will soon be released as part a prisoner swap deal between Tehran and Washington.

The mission told the official IRNA news agency in New York on Tuesday that some of the Iranian citizens will stay in the United States after their release from prison, while others will return to Iran.

The five Iranian detainees were identified as Mehrdad Moein Ansari, Kambiz Attar Kashani, Reza Sarhangpour Kofrani, Amin Hassanzadeh, and Kaveh Lotfollah Afrasiabi.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News in Tehran, Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi revealed that the prisoner exchange process will be completed as scheduled.

He also said that the American prisoners in Iran are in "very good" health, and that they will soon return home.

The prisoner exchange agreement was officially announced on August 10, following two years of indirect negotiations between Tehran and Washington.

In a gesture of goodwill, Iran has moved four American detainees from prison to house arrest. They joined a fifth American who was already under house arrest in Tehran.

The talks, mediated by Qatar, also encompassed the issue of billions of dollars worth of Iranian assets blocked overseas since 2018, when the United States unilaterally abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal and reinstated its sanctions against Iran.

US media reported on Monday that the Joe Biden administration has issued a blanket waiver allowing international banks to transfer $6 billion of Iranian funds, which have recently been unfrozen, from South Korea to Qatar.

The waiver means that European, Middle Eastern and Asian banks will not be in violation of US sanctions in converting Iran’s money and transferring it to Qatar’s central bank, where it will be held for Tehran to be used for the purchase of non-sanctioned goods.

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